On Monday, August 24, Alexandria City Public Schools selected an independent third party to assist ACPS in the work of redistricting elementary schools across the city.
J.R. Reingold & Associates Inc., a communications and community engagement consulting firm based in Alexandria, has promised a comprehensive and collaborative approach that will engage the community throughout the process.
Reingold will immediately begin working with ACPS staff to select a committee of parents and members of the public, called the Redistricting Review Committee, to work alongside the Redistricting Steering Committee, composed of School Board members and ACPS staff. Reingold will be responsible for proposing options for redistricting that will be deliberated on and assessed by the Redistricting Review Committee.
Applications for the Redistricting Review Committee have already been solicited and the public will be notified about those selected to serve on it by October 1.
“The Redistricting Steering Committee was particularly impressed with Reingold’s wealth of experience, track record working with neighboring school districts and their strong community engagement program. They presented a tailored plan that considered our outreach requirements in Alexandria City,” said Redistricting Steering Committee Chair and School Board Member Stephanie Kapsis.
Reingold has previously carried out redistricting work for Arlington and Washington, D.C., and is known for its development of online computer models that let the public try their own hand at redistricting.
“We stand ready to begin work immediately alongside the ACPS team. Our project team members will be full partners every step of the way. We have assembled an experienced team with the expertise and know-how to help ACPS realize its vision for a sustainable redistricting model,” said Reingold partner and Chief Operating Officer Kevin Miller.
The last time Alexandria City Public Schools changed school boundaries was in 1999. Since then, ACPS enrollment has grown by more than 3,200 students. Redistricting is needed because all but two elementary schools are at capacity and enrollment is projected to continue to grow over the next decade. Student enrollment is projected to rise by 4 percent, or 500 students, every year through 2030. Considerable numbers of students are currently transferred out of their neighborhood school and bussed to another school because of a lack of space.
The creation of optimal learning environments is one of the major components of the ACPS 2020 Strategic Plan.
“The School Board wants to make sure that changes to school districts are balanced against budget and capacity solutions and fit with the ACPS Strategic Plan. Most importantly, redistricting needs to contribute to a vision for academic excellence for our division. We look forward to working with Reingold and our community to accomplish this goal,” said School Board Chair Karen Graf.
Any boundary modification will take into account the Long Range Educational Facilities Plan findings. It will also include a review of existing policies related to student enrollment and assignment and an analysis of redistricting.
The School Board aims to ensure that the process surrounding the change of school boundaries, the timeline, activities and decision-making is clear and transparent. ACPS will post a full calendar of meetings after October 1.
The process will involve parent and community input through a variety of venues. The redistricting page on the ACPS website at www.acps.k12.va.us/redistricting/ will be regularly updated with news and information about the process, ways in which the public can get involved, and related School Board decisions.